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Sports Round up OLDHAM HOCKEY CLUB WELCOMES A VERY SPECIAL VISITOR


Club Captain, Amanda Smith, was privileged to accompany Team GB Olympic gold medalist Nicola White MBE as she made her 40 plus school visits around the Borough. Nicola gave the school pupils and staff an insight into her life as an athlete, discussing diet, mental strength and physical wellbeing, as well as actively encouraging them to take up the sport and even join Oldham Hockey Club.


Since then Oldham’s numbers have swelled resulting in over 50 new junior players, a newly formed Men’s Section and two new coaches, with more needed. It was fabulous therefore to see her at a recent training session where she could see first hand the fruits of her labour and spread her enthusiasm to the new and existing club members. She even brought with her new hockey sticks kindly provided by her sponsors Greys, as well as signed kit and memorabilia. Everybody throughly enjoyed the evening with many selfies and photographs being taken with the Club’s Olympic hero.


We caught up with Nicola at the training session (after her television interview) and managed to ask her a few questions.....


So what's life been like since the Olympics Nicola? It's been very mental and non-stop. The attention has been crazy, not just for us but for all of Team GB. The great thing is we've brought hockey into the public eye, and now we have this magnificent platform, we don't want to waste this opportunity in promoting the sport. On a personal level it’s been great receiving the MBE and also travelling around the borough visiting schools and various events. The support has been overwhelming.


How did the experience compare to London 2012? That is a difficult question as I was four years younger in London. The whole experience of London being a home olympics was amazing and it was all very new to me, however in Rio I was more calmer and focused, and I guess more mature as I felt I could handle the pressure better. As I was in mid-age group within the squad this time, I felt I could pass on some advice to younger squad members, whilst still being able to look up to the elder member of the team who have been fantastic throughout. The main thing for the team this time was everyone seemed to be on the same wave length, which is essential.


Have you seen a rise in participation levels in hockey? Most certainly! I think there has been around an 80% increase in participation since London. Until recently hockey has been more popular down South, but now thanks to the coverage we've received during the Olympics and winning gold, I hope that it will now become a nationwide sport enjoyed by all. With the funding put in place for more facilities, equipment and coaches, there's no reason why participation shouldn't continue to rise further.


What advice would you give to anyone wishing to playing hockey?


Simply look around for a club to join or any training sessions in the local area. The important thing is to just go outside and play sport, anyes sport. I'm passionate about kids being active and enjoying sport whilst they are young enough to enjoy it. Don't sit in front of the TV or play computer games all weekend, get out there and have fun and get healthy. Hockey is a great way to do all those things and it's also good way to build up confidence as well.


Could we see you at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics? My ultimate goal was to be an Olympian so to make the Tokoyo squad would be amazing, so long as I remain


injury free. So far in my career I've been lucky, so as long as I treat my body right, then there's every chance. There's no greater feeling than playing any sport for your country.


Would you like to remain in the sport after you've finished playing? At this stage I'm not sure but I would certainly like to give something back to the sport that has offered me


so many opportunities. I could maybe go into coaching or set up academies where I could come back and offer a series of master classes to youngsters. The important thing for all the squad is to keep the legacy going. I've not finished playing yet, so maybe ask me next time. Ha!


around SADDLEWORTH 60


Thank you Nicola and Best of Luck! www.aroundsaddleworth.co.uk


Photos by Robert Cragg www.studiog-oldham.co.uk


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